I am lucky enough to have a fly rod in my hand a lot of the time. It is mostly because I am fishing or teaching casting but I also like to make sure my casting is as I want to be and so I’ll pop out for a an hour or so and run through some casting drills.
It usually starts with a simple overhead cast and then I’ll play with a little more distance before bringing in double hauling and then work with carrying line and then often I’ll look at my Speys, paying particular attention to anchor placements. I’ll then spend a good amount of time casting off of my wrong shoulder, left handed casting and then accuracy.
The order often changes but the drills are pretty similar. It does pay dividends in the long run and means I never feel rusty when I pick up a rod if there has been a layoff for any reason, no matter how short.
The accuracy thing is fun and usually ends up with my trying curl the line around the intended target.
Here is the funny thing though. I can stand outside alone or in the company of friends doing some casting and feel totally at ease. When there is a big trout rising, bonefish tailing or a salmon rolling, things change. I am pleased they do mainly because I just get so excited. The adrenaline starts to pump and I often shake. I am happy to admit it and hope it is something that never changes. I am sure I am not alone in experiencing what some people call “buck fever”.
Thankfully I have been able to channel all the excitement in the right direction and managed to get the cast off to where I wanted it when it counted but I have to be honest and felt that there have been some close shaves!
The best was wading some flats in Belize when we spotted some tailing permit. The wind position sucked, there was a stiff wind blowing onto my casting side but I thought the cast out and decided to cast off of my other shoulder and go for it. My heart was pounding as the line went out. The first cast was short of the permit and I quickly lifted the line and cast again. With permit you just have to land the fly as close as you possibly can to where the fish is tailing although the trout angler in me is more cautious and worries that I’ll end up spooking. But with permit it is the rule and so I tried to do just that.
I knew I was in the early stages of buck fever and my casting was speeding a little so instead of two false casts and delivering the line I took the slightly riskier strategy of four false casts to make sure I wasn’t going to bungle things. The cast went out. It was on target. I waited for what seemed like forever for the fly to sink. I slowly stripped and felt the resistance. The permit was on. I’d been trying for one for a number of years but it had at last happened.
I often think of that moment when I practice my casting and am sure the practice did help but there is nothing like the real thing!
We are fast approaching our second year of Eat, Sleep, Fish and we have just released Issue 23. If you haven’t seen it I hope you enjoy!